I expect to feel lonely, when I’m alone.
I don’t expect to feel lonely, when I’m with other people.
But I have, often.
When we moved to foster multiple children on a ranch, we moved only an hour away from friends but it felt like another country. Much of our experience was extremely counter to what we’d known as typical Americans. The changes were physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Our role was to house up to twelve children at one time.
Here I was, an introvert, living in a large home with my husband, eight to twelve children and a nanny. We also had agency workers arriving every week day and working just on the other side of our laundry & living room walls. Our living space shared the same building as their work space.
Surrounded by people, feeling totally alone.
Maybe part of it was the immense responsibility I carried. Maybe some of it was the distance from friends. Maybe too, I felt the distance of a town filled with strangers. I wondered, where were the people who would come over and just engage in fellowship with me right where I was at?
Regardless of the reasons for feeling lonely, and the validity of those reasons, it’s not the only time I’ve felt this way. I’ve felt it as a single mom. I’ve felt it when snuggled up close to a husband who loves me greatly. I’ve felt it when my children enrapture me with their kisses and snuggles.
Maybe, loneliness has less to do with the presence of people and more to do with actively engaging with the presence of a living God?
Or maybe, it’s a combination and we really need both.
I’m reminded of how God loves to fellowship with us. He is Father, Son, and Spirit. He engages in fellowship in ways we can’t even comprehend. When he created Adam, he didn’t think it good that Adam should be alone. He created woman to fill this gap.
God is the designer of relationships and a lover of fellowship.
God values our fellowship with humans as well as our fellowship with Him.
Yet, relationships on earth could never fill the deepest need of our souls. We were designed to need more.
After sin entered the world we would be born into broken relationship with a holy God. As a result, we would need the redemption of Jesus and his sacrifice so that we could be ushered into the most fulfilling relationship of all.
I’m reminded of beautiful moments when friends, new & old, called or visited “the ranch” on occasion. Those moments, when time was shared without expectation, lifted the heaviness of my heart. They were a gift to be treasured.
When I was surrounded by so many people at “the ranch” and still felt lonely, I didn’t know how to process those feelings. Why should I feel lonely with so many people around?
The enemy whispers lies to our minds with his condemning ways . He cripples us by making us feel guilty for things we ought not.
I felt guilty for feeling lonely when others are single, alone and tired of feeling that way. Because I knew that feeling too.
Regardless of what I knew and the people who were around me, the ache of my heart grew wider. In those vast caverns there was only one thing that could fill them, a continual outpouring of God through His word, through worship & through prayer.
Even so, that ache didn’t fill immediately or completely. In fact, it’s a couple of years later and I still have a great need for spiritual filling. I still need more of Him. I realize now, I always will.
I wanted the ache to just go away completely, but it didn’t.
Instead, He reminds me over and over again that I am not alone, that He sees me and that He desires me to draw near to Him.
Today this ache rises & drops in the caverns of loneliness which sometimes reappear. It’s a reminder that I need Him more and more every day. It’s a reminder to fellowship with others who might feel lonely too.
Even more, the ache reminds me that I am still here on this broken earth waiting with expectant hope for a fulfilling that is yet to come; when I get to enjoy the fullness of His presence forever.
The ache of loneliness points us to the designer of fulfillment.
And that, friends, is a beautiful thing.
Do you ache with loneliness? Has God shown you his presence in a mighty way during these feelings?